Chinese Type 66 Howitzer Retrofit

China has revitalized the Type 66, an old howitzer in the People's Liberation Army (PLA) arsenal by equipping it with equipment adapted to the new needs of modern warfare but also by adapting its ammunition.

The Type 66 152mm was introduced into the Chinese army during the 1960s. Like many pieces of equipment from the early days of the Chinese communist regime, it is a copy of a Soviet weapons system: the D -20, introduced to him ten years earlier. The Type 66 provides reliable, deadly, long-range firepower, direct or indirect. Furthermore, Norinco, a Chinese public company, had also developed a self-propelled version of the artillery: the Type 83.

Its reintroduction within artillery divisions and brigades and infantry division artillery regiments may come as a surprise, especially since China also has a self-propelled howitzer that entered service in 2008, the PLZ-05. However, the Type 66 has significant advantages, it is not sensitive to electromagnetic jamming and remains less expensive to produce than the PLZ-05. However, the Type 66 does not remain perfect, its rate of fire is slower than for so-called automatic howitzers and added to this is the need for a truck to transport it.

?u=https%3A%2F%2Fupload.wikimedia.org%2Fwikipedia%2Fcommons%2Fthumb%2Ff%2Ff3%2FPLZ 05 self propelled gun.jpg%2F1200px PLZ 05 self propelled gun Defense News | Artillery | Construction of armored vehicles
The PLZ-05 displayed in 2007 during an exhibition at the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution.

Currently, the revitalized howitzers are capable of firing normal high explosive, advanced laser guided, electromagnetic jamming and flare rounds. Note that this weapons system is accompanied by reconnaissance drones and aiming assistance radars.

Paradoxically, in the technological race, China seems to be going backwards but this is not the case. This strategic choice reflects the Chinese desire to separate electromagnetically sensitive components (reconnaissance drones and aiming assistance radars) from the purely offensive components of a weapons system. Thus the PLA, even deprived of a subsystem, would retain significant offensive or defensive potential.

Clement Guery
Specialist in foreign policy and security issues of the People's Republic of China.

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